Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I would like to welcome all Members back to the Legislative Assembly. I hope everyone enjoyed the celebrations for the establishment of the two new territories on April 1.
Mr. Speaker, with division now past, the Cabinet held a strategic planning session at the North Nahanni Naturalist Lodge on Cli Lake to discuss the priorities for the new Northwest Territories leading up to the next general election. This session was our first opportunity to meet with our two new Cabinet colleagues, Mr. Miltenberger and Mr. Steen, to discuss the strategic direction of government and the development of a comprehensive vision for the Northwest Territories.
Discussions at Cli Lake focused primarily on the Agenda for the New North. In the past, Mr. Speaker, we have referred to this vision as the Western Agenda. Now that division is past, we have given it a more suitable name.
Mr. Speaker, the Agenda for the New North is comprised of five interrelated components. They are: governance, fiscal capacity, building our economic potential, sharing control of northern resources and improving social conditions. These components are equally important in the long-term development of our territory. In our view, they represent the pillars on which a comprehensive vision for the Northwest Territories will be built. At the Cli Lake meetings, Cabinet confirmed its commitment to the Agenda and for the need to include all residents of the Northwest Territories in its development.
Mr. Speaker, we all recognize that the Northwest Territories is facing many challenges, but we also see many opportunities. To make the most of these opportunities, we need to put aside our differences on individual issues and work together in the development of our territory. In the weeks and months to come, we intend to continue to build support for the Agenda for the New North by engaging the people and leaders of the Northwest Territories in a discussion of all its aspects.
Mr. Speaker, given the immediate importance of the issue, a substantial portion of our discussion at Cli Lake concerned the fiscal position of this government. The Minister of Finance will be addressing specific issues and initiatives when he presents the 1999-2000 budget on April 19.
However, it is important to note that we have heard the advice from Members of this Legislative Assembly and aboriginal and community leaders across the Northwest Territories, that we need to meet with northern leaders to better explain our fiscal position. Following the introduction of the budget we intend to meet with aboriginal and community leaders to discuss its details and the long-term fiscal outlook for this government.
Mr. Speaker, the remainder of the 13th Legislative Assembly provides a unique opportunity to build a comprehensive vision for the Northwest Territories. We invite all Members of this Legislative Assembly to take an active role in the development of this vision as we meet with our residents over the next six months. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.